Jump to content
Maestronet Forums

Playing Double Stops Using Just intonation: which note compromises which note?


tchaikovsgay

Recommended Posts

On 10/6/2018 at 1:30 AM, La Folia said:

I agree, if he/she can't play double stops well, as he says, I'm not sure that the Bruch is the place to start.

On the other hand, I don't know how you can learn to play double stops really well without some understanding.  I would never knock someone for wanting to go beyond the usual cursory understanding.

Deeper understanding of what one is doing is always positive, but given the confidence issues of many budding violinists, I feel that adding to their worries by making them feel compelled to run theoretically, before they can walk practically, won't help them.  I was particularly touched by Rue's "Now I feel guilty", because she impresses me as someone who's already balancing a heavy professional load with deep involvement in amateur musical performance, and managing both with aplomb.  :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Interesting.

 

Probably, it's not worth knowing the theory of it all until your ears can determine right from wrong.

I could play "in tune" for years before I knew any of the theory.  Now that I know music theory, I have longer arguments about intonation, but in the end, someone has to wiggle their finger into a different spot.

Just for example:  playing a Haydn quartet last month, the cellist and I had a disagreement over intonation.  The quartet plays a series of chords.  The viola plays the same note in all of the chords.  My initial chamber music instinct was to keep playing the same note without adjustment, the cellist was irritated that I wasn't thinking about my note functionally.  He wanted me to adjust my note as the rest of the group changed.  He said there was a "context" (functional harmony).  I agreed that there was a "context" (the viola part).  In the end, either I was going sharper or he was going flatter.  It could go either way.  I think both of us had solid arguments.  Our knowledge of theory allowed us to argue for several minutes about something that we agreed simply had to be in tune.  Very silly.  In the end, I agreed to move, to change my note as its function changed.

PS-  I taught myself to tune a harpsichord this summer.  I used theory, I used a tuner, but, in the end, I got the best result by using my ear.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...
On 10/10/2018 at 11:17 PM, Stephen Fine said:

Interesting.

 

Probably, it's not worth knowing the theory of it all until your ears can determine right from wrong.

I could play "in tune" for years before I knew any of the theory.  Now that I know music theory, I have longer arguments about intonation, but in the end, someone has to wiggle their finger into a different spot.

Just for example:  playing a Haydn quartet last month, the cellist and I had a disagreement over intonation.  The quartet plays a series of chords.  The viola plays the same note in all of the chords.  My initial chamber music instinct was to keep playing the same note without adjustment, the cellist was irritated that I wasn't thinking about my note functionally.  He wanted me to adjust my note as the rest of the group changed.  He said there was a "context" (functional harmony).  I agreed that there was a "context" (the viola part).  In the end, either I was going sharper or he was going flatter.  It could go either way.  I think both of us had solid arguments.  Our knowledge of theory allowed us to argue for several minutes about something that we agreed simply had to be in tune.  Very silly.  In the end, I agreed to move, to change my note as its function changed.

PS-  I taught myself to tune a harpsichord this summer.  I used theory, I used a tuner, but, in the end, I got the best result by using my ear.

My new discovery from the previous months is one gotta be flexible in both practical and theoretical aspects; when I posted this thread, I was too caught up with the calculation (theory) of each note in double stops (or in your case, harmony with others) that I forgot I have a natural ability to hear whether the notes are in tune. I try to sometimes trust my instincts, and sometimes calculate if things get too complicated currently.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/6/2018 at 1:30 PM, La Folia said:

I agree, if he/she can't play double stops well, as he says, I'm not sure that the Bruch is the place to start.

On the other hand, I don't know how you can learn to play double stops really well without some understanding.  I would never knock someone for wanting to go beyond the usual cursory understanding.

Double stops has always been my weakness, but, my teacher gave me this piece (I don't know why) for an audition. Anyways, I can never dodge double stops, I just have to face it and train it focusingly, maybe with Kreutzer etudes?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, tchaikovsgay said:

Double stops has always been my weakness, but, my teacher gave me this piece (I don't know why) for an audition. Anyways, I can never dodge double stops, I just have to face it and train it focusingly, maybe with Kreutzer etudes?

Or something simpler, such as making up your own tunes using double stops,  lots and lots and lots of em?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 months later...
20 hours ago, tchaikovsgay said:

improvisation?

Yes. Just like the way we talk and write.  We make it up as we go along. To do this musically seems to me to be such a natural thing to do.

The way we construct sentences is remarkably similar to musical phrasing and expression, don't you think?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, sospiri said:

Yes. Just like the way we talk and write.  We make it up as we go along. To do this musically seems to me to be such a natural thing to do.

The way we construct sentences is remarkably similar to musical phrasing and expression, don't you think?

I admire those who can improvise well. I took a jazz course during bachelor and I improvised like crap

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 minutes ago, vathek said:

Just an observation but I've seen vids of some big name violinists not getting all the chordal stops in tune. I think that for the most part players automatically adjust their intonation to whatever group of instruments they are playing with without thinking about it.

I see. Natural instinct? Maybe

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 10/24/2018 at 1:39 AM, tchaikovsgay said:

Double stops has always been my weakness, but, my teacher gave me this piece (I don't know why) for an audition. Anyways, I can never dodge double stops, I just have to face it and train it focusingly, maybe with Kreutzer etudes?

To be frank, when you first showed up here at MN I was just thinking this guy is just wanting to get better at playing his fiddle, more than likely middle aged or older, no agenda using such fiddle other than hobby work and also he reads music fairly well.

Now I see we have someone in their early twenties, wants to be a teacher and his probably smarter than the rest his age.  This is where we'll be careful from now on.  If you haven't reached the 26 -27 years of age mark then I've some good news for you - you're mind is still developing.

Some or most of the following will be difficult viewing at first but over time could become second nature.  What you can use for double stop practicing exercises is to first gain possession of all 24 caprices Pagannini.  All throughout there are countless doublestop exercises.  The difficult thing about those are they really don't pertain to any other composers work when they incorporated Pagannini influenced doublestops into their own work.

I have the Carl Fischer version of the 24 caprices.  The 24th caprice, var. 6 has some cool sounding doublestops.  Fischer also mentions for similar passages in doublestops is to use his Violin School, part II and book lll of the systematic scale studies.  

This stuff isn't really difficult reading after a while.  It's just difficult to stay focused and dedicated at the same time. imo.   A few sheets loaded with scales I know can help with intonation issues.  The more you hear the tones, the more they become recognizable - though tougher to realize pitch/tone wise while still one is still young of age.   

      

Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, tchaikovsgay said:

I admire those who can improvise well. I took a jazz course during bachelor and I improvised like crap

The thing about improvising is that what you may think sounds really terrible to yourself is really genius sounding to others - you just have to believe them when they tell you so but do keep the ace up your sleeve just in case they're b.s.ing you..    

Link to comment
Share on other sites

19 hours ago, uncle duke said:

To be frank, when you first showed up here at MN I was just thinking this guy is just wanting to get better at playing his fiddle, more than likely middle aged or older, no agenda using such fiddle other than hobby work and also he reads music fairly well.

 Now I see we have someone in their early twenties, wants to be a teacher and his probably smarter than the rest his age.  This is where we'll be careful from now on.  If you haven't reached the 26 -27 years of age mark then I've some good news for you - you're mind is still developing.

 Some or most of the following will be difficult viewing at first but over time could become second nature.  What you can use for double stop practicing exercises is to first gain possession of all 24 caprices Pagannini.  All throughout there are countless doublestop exercises.  The difficult thing about those are they really don't pertain to any other composers work when they incorporated Pagannini influenced doublestops into their own work.

 I have the Carl Fischer version of the 24 caprices.  The 24th caprice, var. 6 has some cool sounding doublestops.  Fischer also mentions for similar passages in doublestops is to use his Violin School, part II and book lll of the systematic scale studies.  

This stuff isn't really difficult reading after a while.  It's just difficult to stay focused and dedicated at the same time. imo.   A few sheets loaded with scales I know can help with intonation issues.  The more you hear the tones, the more they become recognizable - though tougher to realize pitch/tone wise while still one is still young of age.   

      

Thank you for the encouragement and tips! Currently, I'm still working on Kreutzer, so Paganini would be soon afterward; I'll try to look at the double stops of them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

There is, IMHO, more pretentious bullsh*t written (and advocated) over intonation than nearly any other performance topic.

Aaron Rosand pointed out (I think it was Rosand -- might have been Friedman) that "teachers" were held to no objective standard at all the way orchestra players are. Anybody who either had a good sales pitch or a couple pieces of paper could (and did) turn out cripples who believed they were learning to play well when they were being taken advantage of by imposters. ("If you can't play, become a conductor. If you can't even do that, teach").

Intonation is not rocket science, and nothing that needs the kind of pontification it gets from the non-performers-with-too-much-invested-in-the-quest-to-walk-away-from-it-and-sell-insurance-and-math-geeks.

My last teacher (1.5 years) was Fritz Seigal (longtime CM of Pittsburgh who pinch hit for Silverstein in the Boston Pops). Once, when he thought my intonation needed a tune-up, he gave me a deceptively simple-seeming exercise:

Key = C-major. G & D strings. 3/4 time. Lento. Absolutely NO VIBRATO. Press hard with the bow to really get the top moving. Inaudible bow changes. Major thirds: (D string notes; G one third below) E F G / A G F / E F G / A (dotted half note) / G A (switch to D & A strings) B / C B (shift back again) A / G A (&c.) B / C. Theoretically in all keys & all positions, but if you've been playing for years, once you "get it" you won't need that.

When these are IN TUNE you'll hear Tartini Tones (sum & difference tones if you like) surprisingly loudly: like a 'cello is playing C G C / F C G / C G C / F . . . in the bass cleff.

"Re-set" your left hand to that template with minimal hand tension (you don't play the fiddle with your left hand anyhow. You play it with the bow) and you're good to go.

If you've played for a while, you realize quickly that your intonational problems were from left hand contortions, supposedly for the sake of tone shading but that that those differences were really more under your ear than apparent to listeners (an acoustic mirage: copying what a recorded player sounds like basing this on what it sounds like under your ear is a swing-and-miss. Those things come from the bow).

FWIW

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

1 hour ago, A432 said:

Anybody who either had a good sales pitch or a couple pieces of paper could (and did) turn out cripples who believed they were learning to play well when they were being taken advantage of by imposters.

That's poetic - there's perfect pitch, relative pitch and sales pitch.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

You are overthinking it. The single open d let's you put the c where it will sound good as a 7th, and then don't change it, unless you want everyone to hear the change... 

If you are truly thinking this hard about it, develop a set of rules to determine what notes really have to be in tune. One of the most important is if you keep playing a note, c in this case, better make sure it stays the same. 

Too much is made over just v pythageorean intonation, because most people can't consistently nail either or anything in between. If you can, you can figure out how to make double stops sound good. Your ear will tell you. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Knowing about intonation is great. It is likely the single most discussed issue with bowed string players. Rhythm is perhaps the most important aspect of music but as bowed string players we neglect it until we start listening to good jazz drummers. A living composer complained to me that violinists can not "swing." This likely came from Bernstein, though that was not discussed. This comment was not from Gunther Schuller, but another topic, for a later time.

There are so many problems in discussing this subject, much less breaking down the fun issues. The important thing is that there are technical concepts or terms that are agreed upon. Otherwise each player can believe and use what is the most effective system for what they are doing, at that moment. For myself, i perform many styles so i have to adapt. Frankly, transposing is easier than getting tuning systems right. Black Water West Virginia fiddle music is awesome but has been impossible to reproduce. If you are a classical player that's figured it out. Let  Me  Know !

Let's start with the simple reality that vibrato obliterates everything. Though, there is a great benefit in practicing double and triple stops with vibrato but later.

The second truth is that we are held to the standard of piano tuners, assuming that there is an acoustic keyboard available to us. Even with the pianos that are out there, the standard of a=440hz is likely a thing of the past. We are at a=442hz in most big cities in the US. Many violin teachers have to teach tempered-tuning. This is what most piano tuners consider the baseline before tweaking. It a system where the intervals are squeezed a little so that every major and minor key can be represented equally - this means that when leaping from key to key the listener will hear similar relationships between intervals. Two observations here. When audition for an ensemble, be sure to know which "a" they tune to and prepare all scales and arpeggios based on a tempered system. Undergraduate requires mostly tempered tuning.

The father of better violin playing ( sorry Leopold ) is Bach. We can thank or hate Bach for the need to temper the keyboard. 

Every other system is a bit of the wild west. The generic term used this decade has been "expressive tuning," in discussions with Laurence Lesser. The term is mostly accurate as if it is our choice to de-tune our well-intentioned piano tuner's work. Again, if on purpose.

If you are in graduate school, it helps to know how you are playing as one'll have to defend techniques used to the graduate professors. It helps to understand theory and the overtone series. One creates an analysis and also makes an effort to see the original manuscript and understand historic practices of the area and time.

For the rest of us, we can trust our ears and try to understand a melody. Singing helps. For simple melodies with scale wise movement upward, enthusiastic singing expands the pitches upward ( so sharp ) and downward on the descent. Perfect pitchers are in the minority here. On a leap to note within the chord, we do want to get the pitches right. So on expressive based 8-note major or minor scales ( including the octave the ) the major third interval might be played slightly sharper and the minor third slightly lower. The degree one adjusts these intervals is up to the individual, thus expressive. The 7th note on an ascent is sometime called a "leading tone" as it wants to resolve to the original pitch, an octave higher. Try rapidly singing seven notes of an upward major scale to most people who have some musical aptitude, and they will voluntarily offer the eighth note. The leading tone is also very expressive in that the variations in pitch can suggest to the listener where the musical work is going. Slightly higher leading tones have a finality about the melody, It is as if the 7th note is attracted to the 8th note and it reaches the expected resolution. If you play the 7th tone a bit lower it creates greater tension. ( in the reverse, if one is a approaching a deceptive cadence at the end of the phrase, slightly sharpen the 7th to create a greater impact of that deception. )

So on the Bruch, the melody is where one would prioritize the center of the pitch. This is only a partial answer to question but it is mostly correct. The way i might practice double stops for a wonderfully melodic piece is to just play the melody with a wider, soft touch, vibrato with gentle bowing.  As mentioned by A432 so much of tuning errors is the function of hand shape. If you practice gently with vibrato, the hand will strengthen to prioritize the "melody" fingers that apply the greater force of the two fingers - this is done first to locate and stabilize pitches. This also creates a more relaxed arching to better place the 2nd finger. When you are ready, gently add the first double stop ( non-vibrato ) and continue the melody on one string ( vibrato ). When the first double stop is stable add the second ( non-vibrato ) then continue on the melody one string ( vibrato ). Do this on the first day of passage practice until the passage is completed. Every other day focus only on the most difficult double transitions as well as the easiest working on hand shape and gentle vibrato. 

Give yourself the required time to finish the passage, breath, do not stress. It has been better for me to practice short passage in different areas rather than to bash my way through a long section. In post pieces, especially concertos, there are parallel sections that can be practiced in bite sized pieces. Ysaye work is often this way. In the Bruch, if your hands are smaller, the double stop 10ths ( 3rd mvmt ) should be practiced slowly. If the major 10ths are too large, practice all minor 10ths. Infact, in this section it is just as much a shifting exercise as a stretch to reach 10th double-stops.

As one feels more confident, play the passages louder and fuller. Remind yourself to keep the left hand as relaxed as possible. There is no lying or bad advice given here as relaxation is relative. My smaller hands can not relax my contorted hands during Paganini practice. I have been known to pull out a 3/4 violin for this practice. But one might imagine that when the left hand suddenly resorts to squeezing, the double stops will spiral out of tune.

To my students, playing from the piano score is necessary ( and orchestral score later. ) It does not have to be side by side. I actually make copies of some individual measures blown up 200% as practice sheets to leave in the case. In this passage, one has to find the chord and study the underlying scale. That will help in establishing the ideal pitches that are non-melody. Wind players generally hate the neurotic first violinists that elevate their playing and pitches ever upwards. The flute, properly played is simply one of the most in-tune orchestral instruments. A narrow metal cylinder? What sane violinist can argue with that? If one does not prepare this courtesy for the orchestra players, one rogue piccolo could make your life hell. Be also prepared for the snorting pianist at juries.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Direct your ear and attention to the melody. Tune the other line to the melody. 

The  place where you sometimes have to compromise unpleasantly is if you're playing solo Bach and need to use a not-quite-in-tune open string to  play a chord. You are better off slightly compromising the intonation of the notes before and after that chord to narrow how obvious the difference is.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

18 hours ago, Porteroso said:

If you are truly thinking this hard about it, develop a set of rules to determine what notes really have to be in tune.

Everyone should do that.  One basic rule is that the tonic, 4th, and 5th of the key have to be in tune.  If they're perceptibly off, you'll sound out of tune.  You can practice scales using just the 1,4,5 and then add the 3 and the 7, you get to decide how tight the half steps are, and finally add the 2 and the 6.  Another thing is that you can only use an open string to check a note if the open string is a 1, 4, or 5 away.  Otherwise you will get false positives or negatives....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.


×
×
  • Create New...